I am an Ironman. An Ironman x 2, actually.
I’m happy, disappointed, content, and what’s another word for disappointed? at how everything went down on August 25. But what happened is what happened, and I still feel like the luckiest girl in the world that I got to have my day in Whistler (and SPOILER ALERT that I’ll get to do it again). The most important people in my world were there to cheer me on, and when things in my brain got ugly the only thing that kept me going was my will to not allow them be as disappointed in me as I was in my day. Their cheers and shouts and neon shirts and maps marked with the perfect spot to intersect my path made my day one that can make me smile!
The week leading up to the race was as perfect as it could be. We adjusted to Whistler, I had work to keep me distracted, the few tiny workouts I had went very well, and I figured out the logistics before the aggro triathletes who intimidate the living heck out of me arrived and took over town. Having been in Whistler for our 4-day camp helped me orient myself quickly, but before I knew it I started seeing the Mdot logo on everyone everywhere, and I got anxious. Some athletes thrive off of that competition and buzz, but seeing lean fit bodies and bikes 3x as expensive as mine everywhere I go makes me want to hide under my bed.
Which is why it was so awesome to have my parents and best friend and her husband roll into town in the couple of days prior to Go Time. Having non-triathletes there, normal people, if you will, brought me back down to earth. It forced me to slow down and think about what I was doing, but it also ensured that I didn’t think too much. Suddenly a moment debating the latest Selena Gomez hit (Duh. It rocks.) was just as important as 140.6 miles, and in the grand scheme of things, that’s how it should be.
I hit up the expo early on Thursday with what felt like 99% of the athletes racing. It took me over an hour to get through all of the many lines I had to wait in, but the volunteers were great and the athletes were excited. It seemed like the majority of athletes were confused about how the check-in process worked, so along with the few veterans beside me I found myself answering a whole lot of questions pouring out from around us. It made me feel confident and secure that I really knew the answers. The expo at Whistler was much larger and more of a production than what I experienced in Penticton last year, but I think mostly that’s due to the fact that IMC is now a WTC managed race.
It was a cool experience to have all of the tents set up in the Olympic Plaza in the Village, one of the most central spots in Whistler. There was plenty of space for athletes and their families to hang out and spend a significant amount of time (and money!) there. Luckily I walked away mostly unscathed before the race minus some goggle defogger (that didn’t work, sadly) and a race poster to hang in the bike room. I tried to spend the most minimal amount of time possible amongst the chaos, but it looked like people were having a lot of fun.
T1 & T2 Bike and Bag Drop Off
As soon as I got back to the condo on Thursday I started planning and organizing my bags. I do best when I have plenty of time to think without feeling rushed, so I gave myself 2 whole days to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. I’m pretty minimalist when it comes to race day “stuff”; the fewer decisions I have to make and the fewer things I have to remember, the better, but I sometimes worry that I could be under prepared and missing something. Come Saturday’s drop off here’s what was in my bags:
- Bike Shoes
- Clif Bloks
- Running Shoes (to be added race day)
- Race Belt
- Body Glide
- Clif Bloks
Special Needs Bike
- 3x 24 ounce bottles mixed with Infinit
Special Needs Run
- None – there’s nothing that I could possibly need or want that I couldn’t get on-course!
Having a split T1 and T2 made things a little more confusing than Ironman Canada was in Penticton, but after the rain subsided on Saturday morning it actually wasn’t too bad. I rode my bike with my T1 bag to the lake, and it only took me about 10 minutes to get there. I made sure to walk my race day route (lake – wetsuit strip station – grab my bag – changing tent – bike – bike out) and identify sights to remember, and then I hopped on a bus that took me right back to our condo.
T2 (and the finish line) was only a block from our front door, so a bit later in the day I dropped my T2 bag off and did the same walk through to help visualize my race day path, however it was much easier to do in a wide open parking lot than in the T1 park with trees and barriers.
Pretty soon I was done for the day and spent the afternoon eating pasta, tracking all of my friends running Hood to Coast, and making sure that things were set to go for race day morning. I got in bed around 8pm feeling dead tired and ready to close my eyes, but the rest of the night produced very little and very light sleep, which is unusual for me. I willed myself to not worry; if there’s anything I did well the 3 weeks leading up to race day it was sleep!
Race Day Morning
I woke up at 3:30 on race day and tip toed around trying to get ready. I made coffee and downed it along with a bagel, 24 ounces of Nuun, and a banana. At 4:30 I put on my running shoes and went for a 10 minute jog with intermittent strides to warm up and get my heart going, something I’ve found really helpful in managing potential panic during swim starts. By 5am I had all of my stuff packed up and ready to go, so I kissed Garth goodbye, turned off the lights, and walked to T2 to catch a bus to the lake.
I got all the way to the check in and got marked with my number and everything, when I realized I had forgotten my Imodium (a race day ritual): mistake #1. I walked back to the condo, grabbed it, and hurried back. I dropped my special needs bag, did one more walk through from bike in all the way to run out and started stepping onto the bus when I realized I was still holding my running shoes IN.MY.HAND.: mistake #2. I scurried off the bus, back to my run bag, dropped them, and caught the next bus 5 minutes later feeling like an amateur.
The bus ride to the lake was dark and quiet and I tried to close my eyes for a few minutes, but before I knew it we were outside the park and my seatmate was shuffling into the aisle to disembark. I was really glad I knew my way around the park, and knew enough to hang out by the entrance for a while to use the real bathrooms! I cycled through that line a couple of times until it got light enough to see the bike set up well and moved onward. So far I’m 0 for 0 in bringing my bike pump to a start line this year, but a lovely girl in the row behind me actually offered hers up without me having to ask.
Then I met my bike rack neighbor Erin in person (who is now an Ironman!), hung out by my bike taking it all in, said ‘hi’ to my coach and a few other teammates, and before I knew it that “extra” 45 minutes had turned into 10 minutes and it was time to go get in the water.